The ‘Meanest Cities’ in America

A list dubbed the ‘Dirty Dozen’ shames the cities where unhoused people face the most harassment and least support from authorities.

Read Time: 2 minutes

September 12, 2022, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


A list compiled by the National Coalition for the Homeless identifies the ‘meanest cities’ in the United States when it comes to how officials treat unhoused people and the resources available to them. The Dirty Dozen list seeks to highlight the harassment and violence that people experiencing homelessness often face at the hands of law enforcement and others.

Each one of the Dirty Dozen cities are regularly harassing those who stay outside and have been engaging in sweeps for over a year. Each one of these cities has a severe lack of affordable housing, including long waiting lists for subsidized housing, while rents and evictions are both on the rise. Every one of these cities has an inability to house everyone requesting assistance, even in emergency congregate facilities.

According to the white paper, “The Dirty Dozen Meanest Cities in the United States is meant to highlight that neglect and hostility towards those without housing is leading to more people dying while homeless in one of the richest countries on the planet.”

With some of the country’s most expensive and scarce housing stock, the country’s largest population of unhoused people, regular law enforcement sweeps of areas like Venice Beach, and a much-publicized closure of Echo Park, Los Angeles tops the list of meanest cities. Three other California cities make the list, as well as New York City, Atlanta, and the nation’s capital.

The paper also notes that some—if only a few—cities “have not engaged in sweeps during the pandemic, but rather have worked hard to house those living outside,” including Pittsburgh, Santa Fe, and Cleveland.

See the source article for the full list, two dishonorable mentions, and how the NCH made its selections.

Thursday, September 8, 2022 in National Coalition for the Homeless

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